Like most Americans, I am still in shock, trying to come to grips with the attack on the Capitol by Trump extremists. There is so much to talk about, but I will try to limit my comments.
In last week’s column I discussed how Trump is slowly losing his power over the Republican party. I expected it to be a slow slippage. After the riot at the Capitol, the timeline has changed. He is history.
I am reminded of what happened to Haman. First, he suffered the humiliation of having to give honor to Mordechai by parading him dressed in robes of the king, stating this what is done to a person who finds favor in the king. It was Haman’s own suggestion. Shortly thereafter, at the dinner called by Queen Esther, she told King Achashverosh that Haman was wicked and was trying to destroy her people. Right after this happened, Haman was hanged.
Trump’s fall from power was also quick. In the morning it was official that both senate seats in Georgia went to the Democratic challengers. This was even more shocking, since only a few weeks earlier one of the Republican candidates, Senator David Perdue, had almost 100,000 more votes than his challenger. Then Trump came along and did everything he could to help the Democrats win. For example, he falsely claimed that the presidential election results were fraudulent, he accused the Georgia Republican state officials of corruption and/or incompetence, and at the last minute, after a spending deal was made, he stated that there should be a $2,000 stimulus check per person.
Before Trump had a chance to address that problem, he gave an inflammatory speech which most people believe led to his supporters breaking into and trashing the Capitol and threatening the safety of the vice-president, the members of the House of Representatives, and the Senate. Five people died. While this was going on, instead of calling on these insurrectionists to stand down, he tweeted and made a video in which he called them great patriots and said that he loved them and implied what they were doing was right and noble.
Behind many a wicked man is often a wicked spouse. With Haman it was Zeresh; with Trump it is Melania. It was reported that while the mob was inside the Capitol, Melania was in the middle of a photoshoot of furniture in the White House. She was asked to call her husband to try to convince him to do something about the situation or put out her own statement. She did neither, and that was why her chief of staff and social secretary resigned a few hours later.
Although Haman died, his desire to destroy the Jewish people did not die with him. There were still many like-minded individuals. Thus, months later, it took the Jews time to defeat these Haman supporters in battle. The vast majority of the people in the United States want nothing to do with Trump, but there are plenty Trumpians out there who are still following their leader. Therefore, it may be foolhardly to completely count Trump out.
Nevertheless, whether or not Trump is impeached, his political career is over. Likewise, his kids are done. The Trump name is toxic, which is bad for a person whose fortune is based on his brand. Before the Capitol crime, I thought that there was no chance of Trump being subject to federal charges post-presidency, but now there may be more of an appetite to do so.
In the book The Dead Zone, written by Stephen King and later made into a movie, the psychotic and authoritarian candidate for president was done in by a photograph taken of him holding a baby to protect himself from a shooter.
Pictures taken at or before the riot will have an immense effect on many of those who were involved in the illegal conduct. Also, it will affect careers of some elected officials. The most notable is Senator Josh Hawley, who is seen raising a fist in support of the thugs who later trashed the Capitol. He may be able to avoid being forced to resign but he will not be supported for reelection and his presidential ambitions are over.
Likewise, many of those who invaded the Capitol were not wearing masks. They were also posting their pictures and videos on various social media platforms. The FBI already put out a list of those they are looking for. For many of these individuals, the criminal charge will be the least of their problems. They are losing their jobs or otherwise being ostracized. It was reported that many of them whose photos have not yet been publicly seen have hired lawyers and are looking to make deals to keep their names and faces out of the papers.
Some right-wing apologists have tried to blame those who protested in the summer for what occurred and decry what they call a double standard. This is coming from those who love to wrap themselves in the flag and claim that they are for law and order.
There are significant differences such as the location, the time, who was present, and reason. The Capitol has been referred to as the Temple of Democracy or the Holy of Holies. For Jews, our temple was the Temple in Jerusalem. The feeling that Americans have toward the desecration of their temple is similar to how Jews felt when the Syrian Greeks desecrated the Temple in Jerusalem (Chanukah). The attack on the Capitol was done during the day, when the vice president and all members of Congress and their staffs were present. Many in the crowd were looking to engage in violence against these representatives. Also, it occurred while Congress was in the process of deciding whether to certify an election. These insurrectionists were trying to stop Congress from continuing with the vote.
An analogy would be people breaking into a White Castle because they think that there needs to be more beef in the hamburgers, while there is a staff meeting at the restaurant, and then threatening the safety of the employees and trashing the place. Months later other people break into the White House while the president and the cabinet and leaders of Congress are deciding to engage in a critical course of action. These marauders threaten the safety of the leadership and trash the White House. The right-wing apologists could say, look the White Castle and the White House are both white buildings and in both places the leadership were present and they were making important decisions. When White Castle was ransacked the media should have made a bigger deal about it and their failure to do so caused the attack of the White House. It sounds ridiculous because it is, but there are some Trumpians and other right wingers who are making similar arguments.
The ball in now in the court of those in the Queens Jewish Link, whether in columns or in letters, to speak up about what happened in the Capitol and call out the president. The only comment that I have received was from one of my regular critics who, instead of criticizing Trump, attacked President-elect Biden for his comments about the President’s conduct before and during the insurrection. I hope that this response is an outlier. It is time to stand up. Law and order should be more than a slogan that Trumpians try to use against their opponents.